A Seismic Shift
They were invited to follow Him and along the way discovered their purpose—a culture-changing message.
Then their leader was arrested, and they all scattered (see Matthew 26:56). When He was crucified, the earth shook (see Matthew 27:51). And Jesus’ disciples experienced a seismic shift, a foundational reordering of their expectations.
As they quarantined themselves, locking the doors for fear of their own leaders (see John 20:19), perhaps they asked themselves: What do we do now? How long should we stay here? What do we do next? Is it time for us to disband?
The disciples had been shaken. Sound familiar? We, too, have experienced disruption, confusion, uncertainty, and tumult in these days. We are wrestling with the realities of COVID-19 and racial injustice and tensions in our communities. Our assumptions and expectations are being challenged. Our faith perspectives are being examined.
Yet this upheaval does not have to be devastating; the unstable unpredictability of today’s circumstances could very well be God’s grace to us.
Look at Hebrews 12:27. This verse speaks of “the removing of what can be shaken—that is created things,” perhaps our own thoughts, plans, ideas, and expectations—so that “what cannot be shaken may remain.”
Amid confusion and commotion, God’s presence brings clarity and stability.
Let’s go back to the scene described in John 20:19; notice what changes the atmosphere. Jesus comes and stands among the disciples and says: “Peace be with you!”
I’m sure the disciples were still feeling a bit unsteady, even in the presence of Jesus. But, don’t miss this: What could not be shaken remained—the purpose and plan of God manifested through Jesus’ Incarnate presence.
Let’s take a closer look at what can’t be shaken in His Kingdom:
First, God’s enduring purpose: “The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11). God has already written the story from beginning to end. Nothing can thwart what the Lord Almighty has purposed (see Isaiah 14:27). For us, the story is still unfolding, but His purpose and plan will be accomplished and cannot be shaken.
Second, God’s faithful presence: Just as the pillar of cloud and fire did not leave the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness (see Nehemiah 9:19), Jesus has promised to be with us always (see Matthew 28:20). Yes, even in our wanderings and times of waiting. And, yes, even when everything seems to change. The disciples began their journey with the Incarnate Christ; after their seismic shift experience, they continued their journey with Him through the gift of His Holy Spirit (see Acts 1). Jesus’ centrality cannot be shaken.
Finally, God’s chosen people: From the calling of Abraham to the birth of the Church, God has purposed to reveal Himself and accomplish His work through people. When Jesus reappeared after His Resurrection, he told Mary Magdalene, “Go to my brothers” (John 20:17). In other words, “Don’t disband; stick together.” He spent the next 40 days reinstating and reassuring His followers. His final command sent them on mission (see Matthew 28:18–20). God’s people can endure because God’s purposes cannot be shaken.
May these unshakeable truths steady your soul.
We Are Sent
We have been given a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (see Hebrews 12:28). We have been given the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God. We are the people of His Kingdom—and there are tremendous opportunities ahead of us as we allow God to shake us.
May we reemerge from the seismic shifts of these days with gratitude for what remains.